Some Brief Thoughts & Wishes On SG51

Aug 9, 2016

Some brief thoughts and wishes on our nation’s birthday…

Hi PM Lee, Happy SG51! First off, congrats to your recent US trip by invitation of President Obama. What a high honor it was to be the first head of state from Southeast Asia to be hosted to a White House black-tie state dinner. During the visit, your constant refrain of the need for the ratification of TPP meant that you’ve taken sides in this 45th POTUS race. Latest polls presage a sizable defeat of Trump in November. But another bloodcurdling homegrown terrorist attack between now and election day could very well turn it into a coup de grace for Clinton instead; let’s pray not. In any case, whoever is elected President I believe will re-tweak parts of TPP to reflect the genuine popular frustrations over the decline of US manufacturing prowess.

On this National Day, Singaporeans of this little red dot are well to be reminded of the good fortune at home to be able to celebrate the day in relative peace, harmony and prosperity, being spared of much of the perennial problems and challenges besetting most of the developed countries, from race relations, job uncertainties to violence and terrorism. Thanks to the foresight of our founding fathers in their planning and execution, as well as the inherited tradition of high standards and high expectations of government, Singapore has become what it is today. But lest we rest on our laurels, the lofty goals towards an ever better Singapore for every citizen make it a work in progress always on the part of the government and its people.

I have shortlisted 3 wishes on this propitious occasion:

1. Thoughts and wishes of a robust recovery go to ex-President Nathan and Minister Swee Keat; no doubt they will be celebrating together in spirit via TV.

2. LKY had openly stated his wish to have his Oxley home not to be preserved as a museum piece; that’s past being a moot point. But I surely hope some replica of LKY’s simple and humble home be recreated elsewhere for all present and future Singaporeans to remember by. In the recent past 2 years of my ‘re-discovery’ of Singapore, treading past our founding father’s residence on Oxley Road, I couldn’t help but notice the modesty of its looks from the outside. Somewhere on TV I believe, I have caught glimpses of its unmistakably humble interior decor. Such down-to-earth memories should be preserved for posterity, if you ask me. Perhaps the Istana would be an ideal ground to house such an LKY home museum recreation. Incidentally, to a man, homes of founding fathers of successful nations are honored, being turned into historic house museum from that of Israel’s David Ben-Gurion, to Sun Yat-sen and Washington.

3. Last not least, it concerns our National Anthem — its relevance today as rendered in Malay. To switch or not to switch its wordings to English, I believe was a topic fervently debated during the tenure of PM Goh. I hope it would be revisited again during your time because after 50 years of its recitation it has done little to inspire a greater sense of patriotism for it remains largely unintelligible for most Singaporeans. Of the 8 distinct lines in the anthem, I would bet my bottom dollars that an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans, students and adults alike, could not properly discern half of those lines. In other words, it is mumbo jumbo students are made to intone for 5 days a week throughout their school life. How would such opaque ritualistic practice at school be conducive to conditioning a deeper sense of patriotism? I look forward to its re-debate sometime.

For now, to you and all a Happy SG51 with many happy returns of the day.

Sincerely,

Lester Kok

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